Großer Kurfürst impressions (and my first 300k+ match!)
After returning from a 6 months forced break (yay, conscription!) I immediately picked up the Scharnhorst and having a blast with it, I started the German BB line. Before that point I was pretty much a Cruiser/DD only guy with Moskva, Hindy, Zao and Khabob being my previous T10s.
Two more months and after putting 300 matches into my German BBs; here I am today, with the Kurfürst and 3x15 point captains trained on the Scharn. I have to say, I had a blast with every single one of them up to T10. Especially the line gets turned to 11 when you reach rank 7 and get those manual secondaries in action. Being an aggressive player and coming from the pains of DDs and Cruisers, something with them really clicked me.
I think it has to do with how aggressive these ships can be played. They are great for leading pushes and generally taking pressure off from friendlies. When you take your German BB to a cap, you're giving so much breathing room for the friendly destroyers and cruisers that even if everything goes wrong and you die horribly, you give them enough time to inflict many times more damage to the enemy and positions themselves favorably.
I found that the manual secondaries are a huge part of this equation as well. They allow you to engage multiple enemies at once and if you play these ships aggressively, you'll indeed find yourself surrounded by enemy DDs and BBs. That's why I didn't didn't go for main gun reload at higher tiers and instead kept my ships fully manually specced. Once you dodge the initial torp spam, the DDs are completely helpless and they can't really stay in their smoke either because of your 6km hydro. They're afraid to leave smoke as well, because the secondaries absolutely shred them (plus constant module breaks). Cruisers avoid you because you can instacitadel and BBs hate fighting you at close quarters, because you can't be citadeled while you can easily citadel them. Plus, your secondaries keep setting them on fire.
So everything about these ships just scream one thing; "Push, push, push!" and I think they're great stalemate breakers. It especially spices up the high tier gameplay when a Bismarck/Friedrich/Kurfürst sacks up and takes the lead.
My only frustration of the line is a generic BB complaint. When I push (and I always make my intentions known beforehand), sometimes people just refuse to back you up. You see a couple of DDs and CAs push a cap, commit into that cap only to be promptly abandoned when the first enemy salvos start landing. They proceed to watch you from 10kms behind while you get focused by 12 ships and be given a crispy Viking funeral. Friendly BBs are usually timid and rarely get close to a cap at all.
Anyway, to the Kurfürst. The Friedrich is pretty much a bigger Bismarck, but it solves its tiny gun problem with 420s that hit really hard. The Kurfürst however, upgrades the Friedrich in every possible way while losing responsiveness (which is the theme of T10 BBs). You have the same guns, but now you have 4 more of them. Having more guns kind of solves the German BB innaccuracy problem; having more shells increases the likelyhood of hits despite the terrible dispersion. Even a single citadel does tons of damage. At closer ranges where dispersion doesn't matter, this thing absolutely dismantles anything including Yamatos. The armor is a lot tougher but that's balanced by the ridiculous firepower of Yamatos you'll face, the Montana really struggles to damage an angled Kurfürst however.
Having watches many YouTubers' Kurfürst videos beforehand, I saw that none of them were using a fully secondary specced Kurfürst. However, I kept my Kurfürst fully secondary specced. Honestly, despite having secondaries with much less fire chance compared to the Bismarck/Friedrich (5% vs 9%), I saw that I actually did more secondary damage in my Kurfürst. While the 105mm shoots faster, it does significantly less raw damage since they tend to shatter without doing damage. So just like the Akizuki and its 100mm guns, they're mostly useful for setting fires while the 155mms do the raw damage.
On the Kurfürst though, the 128mm seems to have enough penetration to do damage on pretty much anything on any angle (now think of USN DD 127mms). So, despite the lower rate of fire, you do more damage. One thing to note is, the secondary damage is maximized after ~5kms due to their trajectory. Below these ranges, they tend to hit the belt of the enemies so most of them just shatter without doing damage. After 5kms or so though, they start plunging upon the superstructure of the enemy ship, dealing great damage. Yes, you don't get as many fires, but it's more than balanced by the damage they do.
Other than that yes, this thing is a damage pinata for the enemy. It's huge, it takes a lot of normal penetration damage (anything between 10-20k per salvo) and you'll be on fire for the most of the round. However, with Superintended (5 heals) you can tank about 200k damage if you can manage aggro well and use those heals. Another huge weakness is the silly torpedo belt. 25% reduction means you'll die with a handful of torps while a Yamato can keep trucking after eating 10 torps. You really need to be on top of your torpedobeats. At 1050m turning radius it's not the best torp whisperer, but I found out that if you keep your speed high (speed flag helps a lot too) with the occasional side-switch, it's not that hard to throw off DD torp aim. Though, once the torp threat is eliminated, it's really your time to shine.
As I mentioned before, the Kurfürst is its peak performance when you're close. Since you can't be citadeled, but you can citadel everything, the fights are never fair for the enemy. You can even citadel bow-on Yamatos. Since you have 4 turrets, having one of them disabled doesn't hurt much. At close range you can even flash your belly and be assured that you won't eat a 60k 4 citadel shot from a Yamato. You'll mostly get away with 20-30k normal pens while you go to citadel town on them with 12 guns.
Here's the match I mentioned on the title. You can see pretty much everything I mentioned here in action: